This site is always a popular venue for those with a broad interest in natural history with its rich fauna and flora. The RSPB reserve is situated by the River Yare and comprises a variety of wetland habitats plus some woodland.
The previous day had seen some lovely warm sunshine and the forecast for the Saturday was for a mix of sunshine and cloud. Sadly the sunshine never materialised and we had a blanket of cloud with a strong cool breeze for our time here. To rub salt in the wound the sun appeared as we drove back home.
Dominant species of bird had to be Swift. Wherever we looked flocks of these superb aviators were desperately feeding on any flies they could gather low over the water and adjacent vegetation. In total I would say there were maybe a couple of hundred individuals here. Joining them were small numbers of House Martins and fewer Swallows.
My group decided to walk the reverse way round to normal in the hope the sun would be out by the time we reached the Swallowtail area. Having just had the coldest spring for 50 years there wasn't the range of flowers out that we would normally find. Cuckoo Flower was one of the commonest and also a few blooms of Ragged Robin.
As we entered the riverine footpath people were finding a variety of insects and spiders on the nettle beds for me to try and identify. Looking fierce but totally benign were a couple of Wasp Beetles which visit flowers but use dead wood for breeding. Equally attractive were Cardinal Beetles, Pyrochroa serraticornis,with their red elytra and heads. Several of a small Cantharis soldier beetle were also encountered,
The attractive spring hoverfly, Leucozona lucorum, was also spotted settled on leaves a few times. Several Azure Damselflies were also seen inactive amongst the foliage.
A couple of Swallowtails had been seen the previous day in the sunshine but in today's cool conditions lepidopteran interest was confined to several Peacock larvae and a couple of Drinker moth larvae.
Marsh Harriers were one of the star attractions here and we saw several of these raptors which have made a welcome come back over recent decades. Young had recently fledged and the adults were seen dropping off some unidentified prey.. Only one member of the group had a Hobby sighting which is normally an obvious species here.
I was surprised to see three lingering Wigeon as these would normally have headed north, though Shoveler, Gadwall and Pochard were more expected. Good numbers of Greylag were noted with several broods including a mixed one with a white domestic parent.
As with the meadows most of the fen specialist plants such as Milk Parsley, Cowbane, Marsh Pea and Common Meadow-rue were identified by foliage and Pippa was pleased to see her first Marsh Cinquefoil..
Alex spotted a Chinese Water Deer- one of the special four-legged inhabitants of Strumpshaw.
At the end of the day people were busy observing the feeders by the visitor centre where a Marsh Tit made several sorties collecting seeds.
Shame the weather and late spring affected proceedings but still a pleasant day outing in good company!